I gasped softly at a loss for words. Everyone now faced me; questioning the reason Ursula would want me. I don’t blame them. Why would she want me? How would I be much help?
Lady Saundra quickly dropped her head, swallowed, and turned to face Ursula. Even though she obviously knew the answer, she still asked, “Why do you need her, Ursula?”
“She’s special,” Ursula smirked and bobbed her head to look at me.
“How do you know me?” I spat with growing aggression.
“We might be outcasts, but not socially deprived people,” Avalon huffed, insulted. “And even if we were, your name would still get around. That’s how… special… you are.” She chuckled as she crept closer to me with every word. She reached her white-flame tipped fingers to my chin, smiling.
Lady Saundra effortlessly slapped Avalon’s approaching hand away and grabbed her by the chin viciously. “Special, she is, but she’s not going with you!” She violently let go of Avalon’s chin and pushed her back to her previous spot.
Ursula grew angry as Lady Saundra man-handled her black-haired maiden. She charged at me, seeking revenge.
Gene instinctively shoved me behind him. Hunter simultaneously launched to me, pulled my stumbling body farther back, and fastened his grip on me. Floraida, Lucidia, and Lucidia’s copy joined Gene’s barricade. Hunter squeezed me into him harder, clearly scared for me, behind everyone.
Ursula laughed wickedly as she jerked back, almost bumping intoat the newly formed barrier. Her vile laughter was cut short by, a now threatened, Lady Saundra. “We aren’t going to help you! No deal will be made, but do mark my words, Ursula. You continue with this fantasy of yours, we will do everything to stop you!” Lady Saundra’s voice grew deeper and louder as she called out all in one breath.
Ursula’s anger boiled from top to bottom; steam threatening to make itself literal. Her knuckles whitened as she tightened them by sides of her thighs. Her breathing became heavy and all of her body tensed. Through clenched teeth, slightly spitting, she forced, “Then I guess we’ll just take her!” At her words, Nico and Avalon sneered and prepared themselves for the anticipated kidnap.
Avalon’s body became engulfed with red-orange flames and her braid sparked wildly into a white flame. Her eyes flared redder than red itself. Nico flipped out a switchblade and expertly juggled it in his hand. Avalon took a deep breath in and lashed a single, thin flame at Lucidia; one that would have scarred her forever. Lucky enough, Avalon whipped Lucidia’s duplicate.
“Oh! Hells-naa’! It’s on!” Lucidia sassed and four duplicates of her were formed; each pulling out a dagger instantaneously. The five of them bolted toward Avalon.
Nico took the now empty spaces Lucidia left in the barrier, as an opportunity and launched his blade straight at me. A thick, animated vine suddenly sprouted from the ground catching the blade mid-flight. Floraida clucked her tongue and waved her finger side to side, rhythmically. Nico gasped sharply as the vine slipped back into the ground with his blade.
Hunter let go of me and dashed toward a dumbfounded Nico. Gene followed in pursuit. As Gene sped in front of Hunter, he jumped into the air and morphed into a round, metal shield. Hunter snatched Gene’s morphed body and flung him skillfully, like a Frisbee, toward Nico’s head.
Lady Saundra fought hands-on with Ursula; each battering each other to a pulp. Blood trickled down Ursula’s eyebrow. Lady Saundra’s bottom lip pouted bigger than it already was.
Sir Vlaldimir rushed over to help Lucidia, who now was too hurt to keep her duplicates alive. He cleverly used his speed and kicked Avalon’s chest, sending her flying backward. Her body hissed as the dirt extinguished her flames. She quickly propelled herself up off the ground, snatched one of Lucidia’s duplicate’s dagger, and fought off both Lucidia and Sir Vlaldimir.
I stood there, watching people fight for my safety. Anger and adrenaline filled the air around me, making my knees go weak. My dainty knees gave up, bent, and folded me all together to the ground. I couldn’t breathe. My arms stretched out and held my torso up. No matter how deep I inhaled, it felt as if nothing was filling me; nothing for me to survive off. My heart stopped, followed by the blood in my veins. Time slowed…
Floraida turned around, fanning her wavy, caramel hair. She felt my motionless weight spread across the greenery. She started to scramble toward me, but stopped abruptly as she saw a tear slide down my cheek.
Her face, which was plastered with worry a second ago, now fell into a fearful expression. “Lady Saundra…” she cried as she backed away from me. I saw Lucidia, Sir Vlaldimir, Avalon, Gene, Nico, and Hunter stop fighting and quickly face Floraida’s distress call. As they noticed her gaze lay upon my violently convulsing body, they dropped their weapons and arms and began to back away.
“Ursula…” Nico’s shaky voice lingered.
“What!?” Lady Saundra and Ursula snapped in unison. Still in their fighting stances, they cautiously looked for the urgent matter that ended their fight. When their eyes landed on me, their postures went slack.
The emotions I bottled were threatening to burst. My breathing grew heavier; making it harder to keep the little each breath gave. I rolled over on my stomach as my back began to burn. My wings fluttered out and their bones began to contract. I cried out in pain.
Ursula stumbled backward, keeping her gaze on me. “This isn’t over, Saundra. We’ll be back,” her voice shook with fear. Nico and Avalon zoomed to her, joined hands, and disappeared.
“Vlaldimir… Take everyone into the vault and don’t let anyone come out ‘til I say so!” Lady Saundra commanded with a fright in her voice. No one moved; just stared until they saw the overflowing tears in my eyes.
“Now! Run,” Lady Saundra scolded them with a more aggressive tone. This time, they didn’t have to be told twice. They scurried to the gray, circular brick well wall; running faster than I’d ever seen them run before.
Sir Vlaldimir helped everyone jump into the deep chasm and looked at me, then to Lady Saundra. She nodded for him to proceed and with that he forced himself up the wall and into the well.
“Don’t hold it, Skyler. You’re making it hurt more, baby…” Lady Saundra whispered from a distance.
Her soft, gentle voice was the last thing that went through my mind before everything went black.